It has to be kind of obvious by now that the whole “running” thing I was so committed to this time last year has more or less fallen apart. And by more or less, I mean, it collapsed into a tangled, stinking pile of it’s own filth like a college freshman attempting to endure Rush Week for the first time.
Exhibit A: The last time I even mentioned running was way back in this post, from January.
Exhibits B through 17: My running shoes are dustier than the Old McLochland Place, that spooky house on the hill overlooking town that seems vacant but, oddly, hasn’t been for sale in at least four decades.
Verdict: Guilty as freaking charged.
When I first concocted my hare-brained scheme (or is that hair-brained? Is the expression meant to degrade those with hirsute, fuzzy grey matter or people that think like bunnies?) to start running, there were goals in mind. Ostensibly, I was hoping to make some progress towards a (much needed) better level of overall health. As I said then, I’m rounding 40 and, I mean, let’s be honest, someone whose writing process is known for using beer and M & Ms as motivational tools doesn’t exactly possess to a sturdy, rebar-laced foundation for longevity.
In other words, unless I do something about it, this shoddy corporal husk of mine is going to last about as long as that first little pigs straw hut did in the face of the Big Bad Breath.
The goal at the time of last year’s run-a-palooza was simple: run a half-marathon sometime in the following eighteen months by step-stoning up to that level with 5 and 10Ks along the way.
And, oh! How I shot from the gate like a dickens (whatever that actually means)! Through the course of the following 10 weeks, I couch-to-5K’d my way from sloppy sloth to rigorous runner. I felt good, confident, alive even! I was destined for Great Things.
But then. Then, the Dark Times came (which is to say, it turned to winter). And, well, winter around these parts can be cold enough to freeze the pine cones right off your seasonal wreath, if you know what I mean. What’s worse, I don’t own anything even close to appropriate cold weather running gear. In fact, when it comes what I do own for winter, well, I think we can all agree it’s more fitting for the Byrd Expedition than a neighborhood jaunt in mid-January.
The other problem winter presents is one of time. When your entire daily stock of sunlit hours are consumed by an employer, your window for running is limited to either the wee, gloomy hours of the morning, or the dark, tired hours of the evening. Both are darker than my middle school bus driver’s soul, and, truth be told, I’m not a fan of jogging in the moonlight. You can chalk that up to a lack of proper equipment, too. Since the judge made me give back that traffic flagger’s shiny orange vest, I own absolutely nothing now that will reflect a set of headlights.
And the way I see it, I’m pretty sure getting hit by a moving vehicle might run counter to that whole longevity idea we’re chasing here.
As you can see, with all these ready excuses, winter came and lingered, and I always planned to get out there for a jog…tomorrow. Of course, as every proud procrastinator learns (later on), a tomorrow with the promise of action rarely becomes today for reals.
I thought maybe spring would save me. But instead, it rained (W00T! More excuses!) and then…AND THEN!…my fledgling writing career took a turn for the Exciting! In April, I signed with Danielle and Pam at Foreword Literary. I’ve been gleefully working my fingers, toes, shoulders, and butt off every day since.
Which is not so much only great! as it is OMG-Squeee-I’m-gonna-fly-right-to-the-moon! It’s exactly what I wanted, and as a result, I’ve been trying my damnedest to squeeze the W00t! and Huzzah! out of every single minute (like they were tequila-soaked limes) that I’ve been a <movie trailer voice> Real Author</movie trailer voice> since then.
In fact, so great has been my W00t! that I pounded out two entirely new novels in four months in a flurry of late nights, bourbon, M & Ms, broken binder clips, and half-eaten pencils.
There are only so many hours in the day, and with all that work, I’ve made zero time for running.
Actually, it’s worse than that. So forgotten was my running regime that up until about two weeks ago, if you’d asked me how the running was, I’d have looked at you as if you’d inquired after my last demon raising (it went fine, thank you. Smedley’s at home in his cage, eating a billy goat*).
So, then, what’s the point?
I’d say it’s pretty obvious. It’s beyond time to lace my shoes back up and hit the sidewalk.
Why now? Why not just give up and lay about like the gutless, slovenly ape I’ve always wanted to be?
Well, for one, I identify with an awful lot of what this Oatmeal comic, The Terrible & Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances, has to say. In other words, yes, I do kind of miss the jogging.
Another reason is that I’ve reached the end of the recent “writing new manuscripts in a Tazmanian Devil-like flurry” period, and the current eye-of-the-hurricane calm spell should for a brief bit, at least.
In addition to those things, all of what I wrote last year about wanting to be in better health for the long term is still true. Which is to say, I didn’t magically find the key to eternal life during the last 12 months (regardless of what that late-night infomercial guy promised I’d get for $27.99).
This weekend, then, I’m hitting the road again in an effort to work back up to 5K.
That whole half marathon thing? Yeah, no. Sorry, but it’s coming off the table. At least for the foreseeable future.
For one thing, I only have six months from my original pledge to make that happen. I think we all can agree you can’t train a guy nicknamed “puddin” to run half a marathon in six months. And before you people go all Amanda Bynes on me and start calling me a slothful liar, the more salient point is that even if you can, it’s not a priority for me.
Look, being able to say I jogged 13.1 miles without stopping to fall into a shallow grave would be awesome. Really. But that kind of training takes time, and there’s no shortcut for it. You can’t squeeze an 8 mile run into 4 miles, sorry. In order to make a half marathon work, then, you’ve got to go out once a week and run some long runs. Not always 10 mile-long ones or anything, but longer than 5K.
And I simply don’t have the time for that.
The thing is, five kilometers took me on average 40-45 minutes when I reached that distance last year (screw you, I said I’d do it, I didn’t say I’d be fast), and quite frankly, that’s just about all the time I have to give for jaunt through the ‘hood these days. Because family. And work. And writing. And maybe the occasional sleep, if I can squeeze it in. And while running as part of achieving a more healthful lifestyle is very important to me, writing books that me and my family (and hopefully other people) want to read is always going to take priority over it.
That’s just how it goes.
So, without any additional rambling, here’s the New and Improved Puddin Running Plan:
- Couch-to-5K myself back up to jogging Five. Whole. Kilometers (consecutively).
- Repeat at least weekly (1, 2, or even 3x, as time permits)
- Quit being a be a whiny baby about it come the wintertimes
- Buy some winter jogging duds (Psst, you wanna get me holiday gifts? Let’s talk running tights!)
- Repeat ad nauseaum infinitum.
And so, ladies and gentleman of the jury, you’ve heard my appeal.
I reject your verdict and instead hereby sentence myself to some sweet, sweet running.
Like a Boss.
*This is patently untrue. Not only do I not possess a demon named “Smedley”, he doesn’t even like goats. Also, I don’t really call demons**.
**Anymore, these days.